Planned Parenthood

The Truth about Unhealthy Relationships

Unhealthy Relationships

Unhealthy Relationships at a Glance

  • People can hurt their partners verbally, emotionally, sexually, or physically.
  • If you feel you’re being treated badly, you probably are.
  • Help is available.

Healthy and happy relationships help us feel better about ourselves and our place in the world. Unhealthy relationships can make us feel unhappy and unsafe.

If something doesn’t feel right in your relationship or the relationship of someone you know, you’re not alone and we’re here to help. The truth is many people find themselves in hurtful, unsafe, or violent relationships at some point. In fact, one in four women and one in seven men report physical violence at some point in their lives. And physical violence is only one type of abuse — many people experience types of abuse, as well. Anyone can find themselves in an unhealthy relationship, no matter their age, gender, or sexual orientation.

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What Do I Do if I’m in an Unhealthy Relationship?  

If you’re in an unhealthy relationship, always know that you’re not alone and you deserve better. If your partner hurts you physically, emotionally, or sexually, remember: nothing you say or do causes your partner to hurt you. Everyone gets angry sometimes, but when we do, we have choices. We can choose to express ourselves in healthy ways — by talking things through. Or we can be irresponsible and hurt someone else — which is not healthy and not OK.

Here are some resources that may help:

You can contact local Planned Parenthood health center for help.

How Do I Know if Someone I Care About Is in an Unhealthy Relationship?

Some of the signs of an unhealthy relationship include

  • monitoring where a partner goes and who they hang out with
  • checking someone’s cell phone or e-mail without permission
  • keeping someone from spending time with family or friends
  • insulting or shaming someone
  • making someone do sexual things
  • physically hurting someone in any way (like pushing, hitting, or slapping)
  • forbidding activities that someone likes to do
  • not letting someone have access to money

 How Can I Help Someone I Care About Who Is in an Unhealthy Relationship?

Leaving an unhealthy relationship can be really difficult and take a long time.  In fact, it takes an average of seven times before someone leaves an abusive partner for good.  So don’t give up on your loved one if she or he is not ready to leave or keeps going back.  The best thing you can do is listen, be supportive, and when you get the chance, talk about how much better life could be. Here are more tips about what you can do:

  • Be supportive and listen patiently. Having you there and getting support can make a big difference. 
  • Help your loved one recognize that abuse is not “normal” and never deserved.
  • If your loved one is open to leaving the relationship, develop a safety plan together and identify resources that can help. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is an anonymous online and phone service that can help.
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The Truth about Unhealthy Relationships